Decadent Low Carb Chocolate Dessert

Chocolate is my “go to” treat when I need one. Thing is that I rarely need a treat these days. I’m rarely hungry between meals (unless I didn’t eat quite enough for lunch), and I’m really satisfied by the end of dinner.

But sometimes I just want a treat, often on a Wednesday night when the rest of the family has Baskin Robbins Sundaes (two for one sundae night out our neighborhood B & R has been our family tradition for year).

A square of 72% chocolate sometimes suffices. When I “need” a little bit more, I melt 1 -2 tbsp. of (homemade) coconut butter with my chocolate square. However, this is a bit “sharp”–just not a smooth flavor.

I wondered what it would be like with a little butter? So I pulled out the KerryGold–butter made from grass fed dairy cows. This turned out to be just what my “concoction” needed. It’s wonderful!

Chocolate Coconut Butter

For each serving:
1 -2 Tbsp. coconut butter (I make my own)
1 Tbsp. Butter, preferably Kerrygold.
1 Square of high cacao (72% or more) chocolate.

Put the ingredients together in a glass cup–a custard cup or a 1/2 pint Kerr wide mouth canning jar works well.

Microwave on high for 45 seconds.

Stir until well blended. Allow this to cool for at least 5 minutes. This can be eaten warm or room temperature. If you put it in the fridge it will be too hard to eat.

Top with a dollop of whipped cream if desired, and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Now why didn’t I think of that???

Nobody is terribly surprised that Food Network star Paula Deen has diabetes, but the interesting thing is how many people assume that she has developed diabetes from overindulging in fat and sugar, and that the real culprit is fat.  Her son has a new show called “Not Mama’s Cooking” where he “makes over” Paula’s recipes, often by lowering the fat and increasing the carbs.  Sigh . . .   

 Those of us who have read books like Gary Taubes Good Calories, Bad Calories, and who have paid attention to the latest research which shows that fats, formerly thought to be the major contributor to obesity and disease,  is NOT the culprit.  We believe that the carbohydrates in Paula’s diet of choice—all the carbohydrates—are a major factor in her diabetes.  (Genetics may play a part as well, but it’s the carbs that cause the genetic predisposition to turn on the diabetes “switch”.)

 Marion Nestle, of Food Politics, posits, in today’s San Francisco Chronicle Food Matters column, has yet another theory of why Paula Deen and many others develop Diabetes Type II–because they are overweight.  Nestle points out that 85% of people who develop diabetes type II are obese, therefore, she concludes, that must be the cause. 

 She doesn’t quite manage to state what might cause Diabetes Type II in the other 15% of individuals who are not obese, although she does give a passing nod to “genetics”.

 And to Nestle, the prevention for Diabetes Type II is simple.  Lose weight by eating less and moving more.  She urges that old balanced diet—one where carbohydrates are “balanced” with the fat and the protein.  She particularly recommends against cutting back on carbohydrates alone. 

 ZZZZZZZZZZZ, same old, same old!

 I wonder about people who believe that this is the simple answer to this 21st century diabetes scourge.  Presumably the word is out.  Everyone who doesn’t live under a rock has heard the conventional wisdom–eat less and move more and you won’t get fat, or if you do, that’s the secret to losing the excess weight.  What puzzles me most is that people who think losing weight is that simple must think that EVERY obese person has not tried that, or at least not tried that “hard enough”. 

 How can they believe that?  I can almost guarantee that every single overweight person has tried at least one (and often many) calorie reducing diet and has exercised “more”.  Some people complain that their obesity developed while they were exercising religiously and following a low calorie, whole grain diet. 

 News Flash:  Eat less move more does NOT work.  If it did work, if it was that simple, why do you think we all got so fat?  The answer, is obvious–we are all a bunch of stupid and  lazy slobs.  What else could explain the obesity epidemic if the solution is so simple.????

 Nestle touches on the issue of insulin resistance, but states that insulin resistance is a consequence of obesity.  She fails to recognize that insulin resistance can (and probably does, in most instances, as posited by Gary Taubes) CAUSE obesity, not the other way around.  Many people are insulin resistant though still very thin.  Dr. Mary Vernon refers to these people as “metabolically obese” even when their bodies are not (yet) overweight.  Poor diet is certainly one reason for insulin resistance, genetics may also play a role. In any case, it’s clear that insulin resistance may be the precursor to obesity, not the other way around. 

 In my case, for example, I have a condition called “Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome” (PCOS), which we now know is a metabolic condition, the hallmark of which is insulin resistance.  I was a terribly thin child (a lousy eater) and thin young adult (with an abysmal diet!).  Nevertheless, I had PCOS, so that even in the very beginning when there was not an ounce of fat on my body,  my menstrual cycles were severely impacted (1 to 2 periods per year, no ovulation, infertility).  I weighed 110 pounds soaking wet when I got married, and we underwent three YEARS of infertility treatments before I could conceive my first child through in vitro fertilization.  The hormone treatments for infertility made me pack on the pounds so that I came out of all that treatment after my first child was born 70 pounds heavier and continued to gain from there.  Appalled, of course I tried to rein in my diet by eliminating fats, eating plenty of vegetables and whole grains, and adopting various exercise programs.  Yet I grew more and more obese. 

 In the year 1999, I read about the new theory that PCOS was tied to insulin resistance and that a low carb diet coupled with the oral diabetic drug Metformin was helping people normalize their metabolisms and in some cases, even conceive naturally.  I was lucky to secure a referral to a great endocrinologist who understood all of this.  He put me on Metformin , which is an insulin sensitizing drug, and advised me to follow a low carb diet outlined in the book by Michael and Mary Dan Eades called Protein Power.  The weight practically flew off, even though I was eating a delicious diet consisting of plenty of FAT and protein–butter and heavy cream daily.  And, to my utter surprise (and great delight) I got pregnant with my second child “naturally”.

 Insulin resistance caused my PCOS, not the other way around.  By lowering my carbohydrates and increasing the fats, my insulin resistance decreased.  The PCOS symptoms abated.  I lost weight, and was able to conceive. 

 Nestle doesn’t get the dietary connection to insulin resistance.  She blames insulin resistance on weight, and erroneously concludes that weight loss will improve insulin resistance (I was just as insulin resistant at 110 lbs as I am at 220). 

And how does Nestle propose that someone lose weight to improve insulin resistance and manage Type II Diabetes?  “Dietary advice for type 2 diabetes is the same as advice for everyone else: Eat a wide variety of relatively unprocessed foods, especially vegetables, fruits and whole grains, and don’t consume too much junk food or too many sugary beverages.

 Scientists may argue endlessly about the relative importance of calories, sugars and refined carbohydrates in the diets of people with type 2 diabetes, but everyone agrees that eating less of all three would help resolve symptoms.”

 Well, Scientists may argue, but a growing number of clinicians like the Eades, Atkins, Vernon, Westman,  Rosedale, Pescatore, Davis, and many others agree that carbohydrates DO matter and they see the results every day in their clinics.  Reducing carbs controls insulin resistance. Their obese and diabetic  patients lose weight, improve their lipid profiles, and are able to get off their diabetes medication.  They also can get off blood pressure medications, statins, and proton pump inhibitors, simply by reducing dietary intake of carbohydrates AND increasing fat. 

 Nestle says that “some people” who follow her advice to eat less, move more will “still need medications.”  What she fails to recognize is that a whole lot fewer of them will need any medication at all if they reduce the carbohydrates in the diet and  stop eating grain.  And to do that successfully, protein and especially FAT must increase.  “Balancing” carbohydrates  is ludicrous and ineffective.  Carbs must come down, fat must come up.   Calories tend to take care of themselves when insulin resistance is minimized so that the body can absorb nutrients properly while shedding excess fat.

 Nestle understands that diet is key, even if she doesn’t get what type of diet is effective.  She states that she was a speaker at an ADA conference and she was one of only two speakers at the entire conference addressing diet at all, the other speaker was sponsored by Coca Cola and speaking about sugar (!?!–let’s give the fox the keys to the henhouse!).  Nestle  gets the fact that the big pharma sponsorship of the ADA is a huge conflict of interest.  But unless and until she understands that reducing carbohydrate consumption is the key to treating insulin resistance and preventing or reversing diabetes, her advice is nothing more than the conventional wisdom that simply does not work.

Medical Disconnect

 If nothing else is apparent in our society today, it is the complete disconnect between the medical establishment and individuals whom they treat.  Doctors, who get little or no training on nutrition, don’t see the relationship between nutrition and health, except to blame the patient for a poor diet.  Meanwhile, the medical establishment talks out of both sides of their own mouth at once.

 Here are two blatant examples:

 1.   http://www.proteinpower.com/drmike/statins/statins-and-diabetes/#more-4789   This month, an observational study in the Archives of Internal Medicine showed that among women participating in the Women’s Health Initiative Study had a 48% greater risk of developing diabetes if they were on a statin drug—any statin drug!*  Couple that with the fact that there is NO scientific evidence that statins benefit women at all, you would think that the medical establishment would stop prescribing statins for women in particular immediately and tell women already on statins to taper off** .  But no, that’s not what they do.  They decided it needs “further study”, and recommend only that people who take statins should be aware of the symptoms of diabetes so that WHEN (!) they develop diabetes they can get to their doctors sooner to treat it. 

 *In the world of statistical analysis, this does not mean that 48% more women developed diabetes.  It boils down to the fact that almost 10% more women developed diabetes on statins, still an alarming rate!

**I am not a doctor and I am not giving you any medical advice about whether or not YOU should be on statins.  Think and research for yourself.  IF you are on statins and make the personal decision to stop taking them, do NOT stop them abruptly as that can cause serious health consequences. 

 2.  When trigylcerides are high, doctors sometimes prescribe a pharmaceutical Omega 3 fatty acid called Lovaza.  Lovaza is glorified fish oil.  Fish oil supplements can be very effective in lowering triglycerides.  But there are plenty of sources of Omega 3 in healthy dietary fats like Olive oil, pastured whole dairy and eggs, pastured meat, and wild caught cold water fish. So what does the medical establishment recommend when you have elevated triglycerides and you’re prescribed Lovaza?

From From the PubMed Website about Lovaza at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0000414/.

 “What special dietary instructions should I follow?

Eat a low-cholesterol, low-fat diet, which includes cottage cheese, fat-free milk, fish, vegetables, poultry, and egg whites. Use monounsaturated oils such as olive, peanut, and canola oils or polyunsaturated oils such as corn, safflower, soy, sunflower, cottonseed, and soybean oils. Avoid foods with excess fat in them such as meat (especially liver and fatty meat), egg yolks, whole milk, cream, butter, shortening, pastries, cakes, cookies, gravy, peanut butter, chocolate, olives, potato chips, coconut, cheese (other than cottage cheese), coconut oil, palm oil, and fried foods.”

 In other words, the medical establishment is telling you to eat Omega 6’s (Poly unsaturated oils and seed and nut oils) and NOT eat any of the very best dietary sources of Omega 3’s.  Huh????

 (I’m not trying to say that shortenings, pastries, cakes, cookies, gravy, and potato chips are good for you, but they have mixed them in with healthy Omega 3 sources—they don’t seem to understand the difference!). 

 Ideally you want to minimize Omega 6’s and increase Omega 3’s in the diet to deal with elevated triglycerides.    You should do everything possible to MINIMIZE added Omega 6’s in your diet (you get them anyway, for instance, olive oil has both Omega 3 and Omega 6 oils). 

 Dietary Omega 3 is the way our bodies were designed to get it, not from some pharmaceutical product.  Some people need to supplement if they are not getting enough Omega 3’s from their diets, but the medical establishment wants you to eliminate dietary sources of Omega 3’s and get them only from the pharmaceutical source????  What kind of sense is there in that????? 

 BTW, you can buy fish oil supplements from Costco, Trader Joe’s and other sources relatively cheaply.  Lovaza is a very expensive source.

 When your doctor prescribes statins or lovaza, it’s important to ask WHY and analyze for yourself whether dietary changes that you can easily make yourself might make more sense for YOU.  Don’t expect your doctor to understand the dietary connection or to endorse your efforts. They are taught ONLY the conventional wisdom of low fat, low calorie, high carb, they believe it’s the only thing that works, and they also know in their bones that almost NO patient can follow it successfully in the long term.  So they think that diet doesn’t work.

My WOE works!

I had lab work the other day, among other things a lipid panel. 

Component Your result Standard range Units
Cholesterol 235 < 239 –   mg/dL
Triglyceride 71 < 199 –   mg/dL
HDL 79 > 45 –   mg/dL
Low density lipoprotein calculated 142 < 129 –   mg/dL

If you’re not into lab results, let me give you a little tour:

1.  Total Cholesterol.  My result was 235, which appears to be high normal if you look at the standard range.  But IF your HDL is high and your triglycerides are low, the total cholesterol can be even higher without signaling an increased risk for cardiovascular disease.  In fact, women with higher cholesterol levels live long and have less chance of cancer.  So my 235 is a good number. 

2.  HDL.  My result was 79, anything over 60 is considered very good in low carb/paleo circles.  However, since most of the population has lousy HDL numbers, the standard range is anything over 45.  79 is a GREAT number.

3.  Triglycerides:  My result was 79.  Dr. William Davis (Wheat Belly) likes to see that number even lower, but 79 is VERY good.  I’ve seen people report triglycerides over a thousand (!) and most people who aren’t controlling carbs have triglycerides in the hundreds. 

4.  LDL.  Mine was 142 and the standard range is less than 129, so this number appears high.  But Dr. Davis says that when HDL is high and triglycerides are low, most of LDL is the “large, fluffy kind” rather than the “small, dense kind”.  Large fluffy LDL is good, small, dense LDL is a big risk factor for cardiovascular disease. 

Unfortunately, I did not have a lipid panel BEFORE beginning my LCHF diet.  I’m certain it must have been TERRIBLE because my diet was not good at all for too many years and I felt like death warmed over.  I wish I had it to compare to, but I am 100% certain that the good numbers here are entirely attributable to my diet.*

The most awesome part of all is that I acheived these numbers by eating such artery clogging delights as heavy whipping cream, 3 or more whole eggs a day, chicken with the skin on, lots of red meat, real butter, and more.  And enjoying every bite!

Now, anyone want to bet that my doctor STILL tries to put me on statins?

*Certainly NOT to my genes.  Both parents had severe cardiovascular disease, and all my grandparents as well.

My Exercise

Six months ago, I could barely walk across the room without a great deal of pain in my back, hip, and legs and shortness of breath.  Exercise was a dirty word that I tried to keep out of my vocabulary.

Yet I knew that one of the routes to health was to get moving.  It seemed impossible.  I looked at options.  DH, who has had his own journey to health through a healthy WOE and exercise, urged me to try the exercises he started with–Jorge Cruise’s 8-minute a day workout and another one for people over 50.  But I have bad shoulders, too (since bilateral frozen shoulders), making weight lifting almost impossible, or exercises where I had to bear weight on my arms,  and the exercises in those books were too much for me too.  I could not get up and down off the floor, and I had (have) very little flexibility.

At first, I decided that I would start at 5 minutes of exercise and add 5 minutes for every 5 lbs.  I couldn’t even stick to that at first.  Walking was excruciating.  Nothing else worked for me.  I would have enjoyed some exercises in a warm water pool, but I don’t have the money or time to access any pools. 

Online I found out about Leslie Sansone’s “Walk at Home” series.  This is a fitness guru who makes DVD’s about “walking at home”.  This is basically walking in place to music to keep to a rhythm.  There are actually about 6 basic steps (she says 4, but it’s really 6)–they are all incredibly easy:  walk in place, side step, knee lift, kick, and open the legs and lift your foot behind.  There are a variety of DVD’s starting with a very gentle, slow, 1 mile “walk”.  Each session includes a gentle warm up, a more intense aerobic period, and a cool down, plus simple stretching. 

This is ideal for me.  It’s kind of no-excuse exercise.  The 1 mile walk is a little over 20 minutes long.  EVERYBODY (even me!) has 20 minutes in a day.  It’s done indoors in the privacy of my home, with very little space and no special equipment (except the DVD player).   I can wear whatever I want and do it barefoot.   And it’s not expensive–I paid about $9 for the first 1 mile walk.  I can do it literally anyplace (including  the bathroom, and I have!) and any time.  There are really NO excuses not to do it. 

At first, I could not do the entire DVD.  I did the gentle warm up, about 2 or 3 minutes of the aerobic part, then fast forwarded to the cool down and gentle stretches.   Each time I tried to add just a few more minutes.   It took about 1 month before I could do the entire 1 mile DVD.  And it was HARD, I felt like I did a good workout each time, as wimpy as that was. 

Sometimes Leslie’s constant chatter bothers me.  I learned to turn off the sound sometimes and  listen to podcasts while I watched the DVD for the movements and pacing.  One of my motivators is listening to low carb and paleo podcasts (I’ll do another post about what I listen to), so I’d listen to those while watching and doing my 1 mile walk.  Killing two birds with one stone.

After a while, I felt stronger, and tired of the 1 mile DVD over and over again.  I invested in a 2 mile DVD.  And there was one 2 mile audio MP3 I could download from Amazon.com for only about $7.  She just talks you through the same steps.    THOSE were tough, but I soon mastered them and wanted a little more.

Low Carb and Paleo gurus are starting to talk about the fact that aerobic exercise, especially what they call “chronic cardio” may not be so good. They are into high intensity interval training and “cross fit”–both involve short bursts of very high intensity exercise–heavy weights or sprinting–coupled with some more “cardio type” things.  I’m not up to those styles of workouts for sure, but I did know I wanted to add some resistance training because it’s supposed to be really good for your blood sugar and for your muscles. 

I bought a new DVD with 4 Leslie Sansone workouts on it, a 1, 2, 3, and 4 miler.  The 1,2, and 3 milers have resistance added.  The 1 miler uses 1lb weights (just a few dollars at the Sports Authority–so little they are CUTE!) and the 2 and 3 miler use a purple stretchy band, included with the DVD.  I love them and feel so great when I do these DVD’s.  For some reason, that little bit of wimpy resistance gives me a great workout, and really gets the endorphins flowing. 

I even have a “gym”–my older daughter’s room.  She’s living in the dorms this year (even though her university is only 12 miles from our home), so her room has become my gym.  There’s plenty of room to do my Walk at Home DVD’s, and the dog often sits on the bed watching (no, she’s not allowed on the bed!).  In anticipation of DD’s winter break (she’s home until January 17th), I used my iPhone to make audio recordings of the 1 and two mile workouts, so I can do them even without easy access to a DVD player.  My kids sleep late during vacation, so I do the workouts in the living room right now. 

My goal is to do some form of exercise no fewer than three times a week.  It’s not always these DVD’s, sometimes I walk in the “real world” and sometimes I play wii with my kids.  I dream of riding a bike again, and being able to do that a few times a week.  I’d love to have access to a pool for water aerobics, too. 

My husband thinks the kind of exercise I do is wimpy.  He worked himself up from little hand weights and an ab cruncher to doing heavy kettlebells, heavy weight lifting, and yoga.  Plus, he walks the dog from 45 minutes to 2 hours daily (longer on the weekends).  It may be wimpy, but it’s 1000 times better than not being able to do anything which is where I was 6 months ago.

Since the beginning of October, I’ve only missed 1 week of not getting all three exercise sessions in.  I have a NO EXCUSES attitude.  Sometimes  I get a fourth or even a fifth exercise session in a week, but I don’t push myself past 3 because I find that my body feels better with at least one recovery day.    I have a lot more aches and pains if I don’t get those recovery days in. 

Last week I almost missed the third session, but I played wii with my kids to get the last one in.  I did 30 minutes and worked up a good sweat!  The week of Christmas we’d traveled to see family in Southern California.  To get my third session in I took a walk in their neighborhood.  Real walking is still a challenge for me–the uneven ground (no sidewalks) hurt my hips some, and I got a little lost so I ended up walking a bit past my endurance point.  I didn’t feel very good after that walk, but some fluid and a short nap restored me. 

Today I took a walk around our regional county park lake.  It’s about 2.3 miles.  I walk with a friend who has had double knee replacements, and she needs to go about the same pace I do.  Today she wasn’t feeling well, so we took several rest stops.  That’s OK, it’s getting up and doing something which is what is most important to me.  The companionship was great, and  I’m thrilled and amazed to be able to walk more than 2 miles around the lake and feel good about it afterward.

Exercise is still not my favorite thing to do, but it’s no longer a dirty word in my vocabulary.  And, some days I just feel very restless to move, so it feels great to do so.  I’ve even done my Walk at Home in my bathroom at home–when everyone is all over the house and I couldn’t find another private spot to do it. 

Research indicates that exercise does NOT really help you lose weight, but it’s the other benefits I’m after.  I’m walking on the path of health. 

 

 

So What Do I Eat?

Breakfasts: (one of these menus)

 1.  Eggs and bacon:  2 whole eggs and one egg yolk (preferably pastured eggs) fried in 2 tsp. of coconut oil, 3 slices of turkey bacon (we don’t eat pork), and a commuter cup full of coffee with 1 tbsp. heavy whipping cream and 1 ½ tsp. of coconut oil.  (Mmmmm, don’t you just love “diet” food?)  ;o)   Sometimes, when feeling extra virtuous,  I put the eggs on a bed of fresh raw spinach—the heat from the eggs wilts the spinach.      OR

 Hot flaxmeal cereal (1/4 cup ground flaxmeal cooked in 2/3 cup water) with 1 tbsp. almond butter and “fixings”—one or many of:  ½ square of baker’s unsweetened chocolate, coconut flakes, nuts, cacao nibs.  Usually a few drops of stevia, especially if I’m having the unsweetened chocolate.  And I pour on a little heavy cream, plus more in my coffee.    OR

 Low carb pancakes made from low carb protein powder and egg with frozen blueberries (I usually do this on the weekends when I have more time). A few slices of turkey bacon and coffee with HWC, too.  OR

 Whole Milk yogurt or my homemade yogurt (made with heavy cream) with some homemade low carb granola and a few frozen berries.

 Lunch:

Breakfast usually fills me up, so I have lunch late, and sometimes forget to eat lunch at all.  Generally I have a protein smoothie made with 1 scoop of vanilla whey protein powder, 1 cup of unsweetened vanilla almond milk, 1/3 cup of whole milk or homemade cream yogurt.  I usually eat a little something on the side—often some homemade low carb granola (dry), a slice or two of cheese, some leftover meat or veggie from last night’s dinner.   On the weekends, I’m more likely to eat leftovers from dinner.

 Dinner

This is the one meal I don’t have control over since DH usually cooks.  He’s pretty good about making something I can have.  We have an entrée of meat, chicken, or fish most nights.  (Organic and pastured or grass-fed meats if possible).  Sometimes we have a quick low carb vegetable frittata, or homemade soup.  Last night he made butternut squash soup—a little high in carbs for me, but not too bad.  And it was delicious! 

 I have frozen cooked hamburger patties and sausages in case I can’t or won’t eat what he makes for himself and our kids.  If it’s a starchy entrée (pizza or pasta, usually) I eat one of my frozen stash. 

Sometimes there’s a starchy side dish like grains, potatoes, or noodles, and I just don’t eat  it (I will eat small servings of sweet potatoes or winter squash) .